Long-distance courtships were undertaken through letters and telephone messages long before the arrival of the Internet in the 1990s.During those times, instant communication and convenience were not guaranteed as the letters took long to reach their destinations. The modern technological era has taken the world by storm ever since the Internet came by. The overdependence on the web for almost everything has taken over as people conduct various activities online, from research to assignments, general knowledge to entertainment, among many others. One of the resultant benefits to lonely souls has been the online dating, which has been branded a unique way of looking for love on the Internet (Yurchisin, 2005). By just one click on an online profile, or logging into one of the countless dating websites that are all over the Internet, one is guaranteed to find a partner. People do not only use online dating to find love alone, some use such services to find sexual partners and casual relationships (Quesnel, 2010).
How Online Dating Occurs
Online dating begins from an avalanche of emails, chats, and private messages the last being more intimate than the former (Ansari & Klinenberg, 2015). Unlike traditional dating which could usually take months or even years, online dating takes much shorter time. Depending on which platform is used, this kind of dating takes various channels to go through. Some social apps and websites have lessened the burden of finding online dates. Most dating websites which were initially meant for desktop only and therefore could only be accessed at home or at the office are now available on mobile platforms. In addition, the services cost money at the earlier stages and people had to pay the price of looking for love from the web. Some of the apps still cost money but the experience from those who have tried them out is that satisfaction is guaranteed, as one gets what one wants.
Besides the dating websites that cost money, there are those that save money. The highly rated sites for hook-ups, dates, relationships online include Zoosk, Match.com, Elite Single, Blackpeoplemeet, Adult friend finder, Wooplus among others. These sites have been made more close and personal on mobile platforms. This has enabled people to meet the potential partners remotely, anytime and anywhere. Plenty of Fish (POF) is a favourite site for very many people who seek love and romance online.
Benefits of Online Dating
In comparison to the traditional dating, online dating provides positive aspects that cannot be overlooked. It provides safety, convenience, a sense of anonymity and the ability to filter interests that one is looking for, including age and race. The numerous sites that exist put at one's disposal capacity to choose from a wide variety of profiles and preferences. One gets the chance to choose what they think are applicable and favorable to their interest. On the flipside, online dating minimizes personal contact. As a business, online dating has become one of the most profitable industries minting hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The financial cost of membership of a dating website or community is a very decisive factor influencing which dating sites people visit. The majority choose websites and platforms that are free.
The growing trend of online dating has been researched by social scholars and psychologists. Gunter (2007) conducted a survey on why online dating was becoming a common experience. In the UK, out of 3,800 persons who took part in the survey, 29 % confessed to having used online dating sites to seek love and affection. Self-completion questionnaires were put online to be accessed by about thirty thousand potential respondents. 67 % of the 3, 844 respondents were female while 33 % were male. The age brackets of those who responded to the questionnaires ranged from 16 to 55 and above. From this survey, 94 % of non-users of online dating communities had heard about it. One in four non-users had considered online dating (Gunter, 2007).
The reasons why people seek online dating vary. Gunter (2007) found out that 40 percent of participants in his survey asked dates, 38 percent of them were finding new friends while 22 percent were looking for long-term marriage partners. Some people get attracted to the online dating since it aids in cushioning the negative psychological impact of rejection that might be experienced when a person is reprobated in a public place.
In a psychological sense, online dating has proved to be safer. The sites attract an influx of users due to the anonymity involved while seeking out partners. Hiding behind a computer or phones provides the sense of security. The matchmaking functionalities of the dating websites provide a pool of people with similar interests in seeking out relationship partners. As a result, the services deem useful in helping the members shake off the feelings of vulnerability that accompanies those trying to find partners in public places. An additional advantage of ingrained psychologically in the online dating experience is that it forces the members to judge others according to their ideas rather than on the physical appearance and so "enables individuals to relate on a very different level than they might face-to-face" (Ramirez et al, 2015). In a nutshell, online dating provides the ability to get to know much about potential partners before meeting them in person and also filter out the unwanted prospects and at the same time keeping from the perils that come with traditional dating. A comforting statistic in online dating is that one out five couples has met online.
Disadvantages of Online Dating
Various predicaments are associated with the traditional mode of dating (Rosen et al, 2008). Some include fear of being too open to reveal too much of personal information, fear of making an impression of an annoying person on a first dinner date, or uncertainties of how the date partners might perceive each other. People worry about their physical appearances such as how to dress, whether they had put on a deodorant, about whether a kiss should or should not wind up the date or simply to say goodbyes in form of hugs, or just awkward handshakes (Keel, 2012). These are real life interactions that cause confusions; online dating provides a platform on which the physical sources of nervousness can be avoided.
It is worth noting that the profiling systems that drive the algorithms of the dating websites represent the idealized versions of the users. People tend to use better versions of them, either photographically or otherwise, to create the first impression to the potential partners (Finkel et al., 2012). The socially appealing facets of their identities are mostly favored to aid in attracting the best match and in the process; people knowingly omit their unfavorable features or versions. Ellison et al. (2011) assert that online dating websites enable a greater degree of perceptual ambiguity since the available tools include photo-based and text modes of communication to reveal personal identities. With that in mind, quite a considerable number of people have been left disappointed when the best match turns out to be someone different either in person or character. There exists zero balance between realistic and ideal self-presentation on online dating websites.
Online dating has been used in small regards, to judge the personalities of users. Some typical users have been found to be introverts who cannot master the art and confidence of self-expression. The participants who took part in a study for Computer-mediated Communication (Ramirez et al, 2015) revealed that they could read the literary nature of the potential partners such as errors in spellings or grammar. That should mean that they are either illiterate or are ignorant enough no to care about their self-presentation (Ellison et al., 2011).
Tinder, a social application with over a hundred million users, harbors additional connections via Facebook, plus the shared interests. It provides the luxury of just switching the GPS on, and the nearby matches are shown according to distance in miles, from wherever an individual is. The option to upload up to seven pictures for profile provides varieties for swiping left and right depending what is being looked for. The act of swiping mindlessly without paying detailed attention has allowed the search for soul-mate an endless game that never ends. This is proof that dating has clearly been gamified (Best & Delmege, 2012). The filters allow people to choose age, race, sex, country of origin and distance.
Internet dating has both positive and its negative impacts that have been discussed in this paper. The psychological effects on both the participants and the digital society at large are bare to see. People are getting into a communicative isolation in the real world, seeking social, romantic or love partners online. People prefer to talk to potential partners online than begin a conversation with those they meet in parks, at the train stations or even in the streets. Online dating apps have made it easier for people to find partners, the challenging part still remains: getting out from behind the computer or the phone to meet the potential people, and seeking for a connection and compatibility that blend relationships.
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